Monday, January 16, 2012

WHAT WOULD MLK THINK ABOUT CONTENTS OF CHARACTERS IN COLLEGE SPORTS?


As I watched ESPN's tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.,
"Content of Character" on Friday,  I wondered what he would've
thought of the state of college sports today. Would he see it as
an opportunity for young people to better themselves or
a cess pool where student-athletes got exploited by coaches
and leaders who only seem to do the right thing when it's right
for themselves?

What would he think about the leaders, coaches, and educators
whose real jobs are to guide young people and teach them about
making right decisions with honesty and integrity yet can't seem
to do it the way they themselves preach it?

2011 was a year unlike anything ever seen in the the world of
college sports. It wasn't because of what happened on the field,
but rather, what happened off it. The alleged child-abuse scandals
at Penn State and Syracuse put a slimy exclamation point on
a year filled with characters whose contents were clearly
sour and spoiled.



Jim Tressel built a holier-than-thou image with his sweater
vest and meticulous preparation. He looked like a U.S Senator,
unfortunately, he acted like many politicians do. He demanded
that his players be open and honest, yet, when he was faced
with questions about what he knew about NCAA violations
committed by his players, he lied. He lied to save the image
that he had carefully built. If he hold told the truth, as he
urged his players to do, Ohio State would've have taken
their medicine like USC did before them and eventually
recovered. Instead, Tressel lied and it cost him his job.
Bruce Pearl of Tennessee did the same thing. He lied and
it cost him his job of reputation. The contents of those
two characters, no matter the color of their skin, is clearly
not good.


The administration at Penn State looked the other way
during the most heinous scandal in NCAA history. Forget
about the truth and protecting innocent victims. The president,
athletic director, and Joe Paterno said, "We have a $50 million
dollar a year cash cow and have a motto of 'Success with
Honor'. That will be destroyed so we must shove it under
the rug." Great lesson in Happy Valley. Tremendous example
for the student body. The contents of the character of the
Nittany Lions weren't as strong as their roar on Saturdays.


Todd Graham got his big break last year, when the
University of Pittsburgh hired him to be their football
coach. This came shortly after the "new coach" before
him, Mike Haywood, had been fired after just three
weeks on the job, for domestic abuse. Graham called
it his "dream job." After going a spectacular 6-6 in
his first year, Graham got a call from Arizona State
about their head coaching job and then asked the
man who hired him at Pitt, Steve Pederson, permission
to interview for the job. Pederson, the athletic director,
said no. Graham went anyway. He got the job, then,
rather than meeting with his players face-to-face, he
texted them in the middle of the night to say good-bye.
Loyalty? Honesty? Integrity? The contents of Graham's
character don't pass the MLK test, that's for sure.

Players weren't exempt from being judged on the
contents of their character. In August, four LSU football
players were involved in a bar brawl, including the
Tigers starting QB Jordan Jefferson. One person
in the melee suffered a broken jaw. The players were
suspended. Players at UNC, Auburn, and Miami
were accused of taking money and other gifts from
agents, a violation of NCAA standards. They knew
they were doing the wrong thing, but chose to do
the thing that benefited THEM, the most.


That's what college sports has become: How can it
benefit ME the most. Coaches are jumping from job
to job after one year, leaving their players and an
entire university, holding the bag. University presidents
and athletic directors are jumping to different conferences
hoping to get bigger pay days. Can you blame the players
for leaving, as well? Forget about the education, show me
the money! That has become the theme of the NCAA,
coaches, athletic directors, presidents, and players throughout
college sports. SHOW ME THE MONEY!



The BCS paid out $174 million dollars to its participants
in 2011. It will be much bigger next year. The SEC is
in the midst of a 2.2 BILLION dollar package with CBS.
The conference has won six straight national titles, can
you imagine what it's going to be the next time around.
The money in college football is obscene. As Cyndi Lauper
once sang, "Money changes everything", and it can
certainly change the contents of the characters in college
sports.

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